There is no denying that a steaming bowl of chicken soup will soothe a sore throat, open your stuffy nose and provide warmth to your soul. As winter quickly approaches, so does the dreaded cold and flu season. You know the drill…stock up on cough and cold medicine, decongestants, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. All of your festive holiday planning, singing, eating, drinking, and being merry can come to an abrupt halt if you are unfortunate enough to be attacked by any one of the thousands of viruses out there. Sneezing and snotty kids, hacking shoppers, and the added stress of preparing for the holidays can weaken even the most armor clad immune system. But fear not, add a few more items to that shopping cart and you will be ready to tackle cold weather and the cold season
We all know how good it feels to eat a big bowl of homemade chicken soup when we have a cold. The steam from the broth, the hot liquid, and the yummy vegetables make us feel instantly better. But why do we feel better when we eat it? The answer to this question has two parts: sensible and scientific.
Sensibly we know the steam from the hot soup opens up stuffy nasal passages and the hot broth is soothing to a sore throat. The nourishment from the chicken, noodles, and vegetables provides us with energy and is easy to digest. The heat from the soup raises your internal body temperature slightly, warming you to the core. Here’s where it gets a little scientific. When cooked, the chicken releases the amino acid cysteine which helps to loosen mucous in the lungs and nasal passages making it easier for you to cough it out and to blow your nose. Carrots contain beta carotene (this is a provitamin that can be converted to vitamin A), calcium, potassium, and vitamins B and C. Carrots also have antiseptic properties. Garlic fights viruses and bacteria. Onions contain the flavonoid quercetin, which has antioxidant and antihistamine properties. They also contain properties that help fight infections. Quercetin does not break down in the soup; instead its healing properties are transferred to the broth. Celery is rich in vitamin C and has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent free radical damage. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and is necessary for preventing and fighting colds.
Now that we know how and why we feel better after eating homemade chicken soup, I will share a family recipe. I love chicken soup. I’ve eaten all kinds of chicken soup from homemade to restaurant made to different canned varieties. But, I have to honestly say that mine is the best I’ve ever had, ever.
1 whole chicken cut up (I don’t use the gizzard or innards)
2 (32oz) boxes of organic chicken broth
Put chicken and broth in soup pot and bring to a boil. Salt to taste.
Add to broth: Leafy tops of 4-5 celery stalks and 4-5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
While broth boils, cut up and set aside:
4-5 Carrots (5 small/medium, 4 medium/large); cut at angle
4-5 Celery stalks (5 small/medium, 4 medium/large); cut at angle
2 medium or 1 large sweet onion
I try to make sure there are equal parts of the three vegetables
This is the key to great soup: BOIL CHICKEN IN THE BROTH FOR 1 ½ hours!!!!
Add water to keep the liquid at original level
After the chicken has boiled for 1 ½ hours, remove the pieces from the broth and add the vegetables.
Remove skin, shred and cut up chicken, and add back to the broth. Add water if needed.
Now for the noodles. I only use the fine egg noodles. Boil the noodles until al dente (salt the water and add 2 Tbsp of oil). After their done, rinse and set aside. Do not add to the soup.
Continue to boil the soup for approximately 30 more minutes or until vegetables are firm but not crunchy. Turn off heat. Vegetables continue to cook even after heat has been turned off.
Grab your favorite soup mug, a hearty slice of artisan bread, and load up your bowl with a mound of noodles and the piping hot chicken soup. You will instantly feel the healing properties of your own homemade chicken soup at work. Eat, drink, and be healthy!
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